Manitou makes mine-spec mods in Italy

Manitou Australia was first set up as a subsidiary of the French company in 2005, but the original Manitou rough terrain forklifts were first imported to Australia 40 years ago.

Since then the Manitou rough terrain telehandler has become indispensable in mining construction and production.

Manitou Australia managing director Stuart Walker is very enthusiastic about the level of service that Manitou provides to the mining industry through the modification of mine-specification machines at the new Mining Competency Centre in Italy.

"We have just delivered the first of the mine-spec machines prepared in Italy at the Mining Competency Centre," he said.

"We actually decided to launch the machine in production based on an MDG15 specification, which is basically what we consider to be the mandatory specifications you always need for mine machinery based on mandatory requirements we've observed around the world."

MDG15 is the guideline for mobile and transportable equipment for use in mines, which assists in assessing the safety standards relevant to mines, surface of underground mines and product processing plants.

Recently Manitou Australia has delivered a mine-spec, 22.5 tonne telehandler to BHP Billiton in WA.

"It was specifically bought with a cylinder handler for grabbing the hydraulic cylinders on mobile plant for maintenance, it's quite a specialised bit of machinery."

Walker said the new centre in Italy is an important part of servicing the high standards of mining clients in Australia.

"You can use a standard machine, but you can't just take a standard machine and put it to work on a minesite and expect it to perform to the expectations of those clients," he said.

"That is why some of our machines, which come from our French manufacturing facility, will be shipped to our Mining Competency Facility in Italy where they are prepared specifically for mining operations.

"They're obviously work­ing in very harsh environments, long hours, difficult terrains, so what we do now is we take the competencies that we've learned from research with clients around the world and we modify the machines from the factory."

The Manitou forklifts and telehandlers are kitted out for full MDG15 wiring compliance, hydraulics, lowered cabs, failsafe braking, as well as a whole range of modifications specifically for the mining industry.

"What a lot of people don't realise is that the tele­handler in the Manitou range doesn't comply with the under­ground braking re­quirements," Walker said.

"People think you can take a machine off a construction site and put it in an underground mine, but of course it won't be compliant and will run into a few problems."

"So we've done a lot of work in the last three years to bring this online, which is kind of ironic because the boom is over, but we're very well positioned to service our clients, new and old," Walker said.

Thanks to the post-boom increased production there is still demand for our support vehicles, so we think what we've learned in the last few years will help us to make sure our support structures are correct, but also the product that we deliver conforms to the correct specifications."

Walker said that in the post-boom economy Manitou has seen a slight drop in sales of around 20 per cent, which he thinks is related to the slowdown in investment, in particular with the resources infrastructure construction sector.

"In terms of machines that are actually utilised in mining, so that means machines that are used around washbays, machines that are utilised in the maintenance of heavy plant, tyre handlers and machines with underground applications, we haven't really seen a huge drop off.

"There has been a slight decline, because obviously budgets are tighter in terms of the way people are assessing and looking at their needs on the mining operations, but we haven't seen it fall off the cliff."

Manitou is continuing to develop its systems to evolve in the industry, including for comfort and fuel efficiency, and significant investment in research and development has kept them ahead of the pack, and the new 35 and 40 tonne supersized telehandlers which were announced in March this year are now available for sale in Australia.

Manitou has already delivered the first of this range to a client in South Africa.

Manitou has also released some concept art for feeling out the future of how telehandlers will look, which will no doubt have clients visualising the new look of telehandlers in years to come. 

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